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A can of worms for the 50th Merdeka Anniversary – call for a full list of new government buildings occupied without CFs in the past 20 years

Media Statement (2)      
by Lim Kit Siang  


(Parliament, Monday) : The press today reports of the “crack-up” of another spanking new government building - the ceiling collapse of the RM450 million Sultan Abdul Halim Hospital in Sungai Petani which fell in two separate areas yesterday and on Saturday. 

The New Straits Times story, “Hospital’s ceiling collapses” reported: 

"In both the incidents, 28 ceiling panels came crashing down but no one was injured.

"On Saturday, 12 pieces collapsed at the men’s ward, about

"Fortunately, the panels did not hit the four patients in the ward, recovering from post-surgery.

"The same day, eight panels fell at the lobby.

"At noon yesterday, eight panels fell into the pantry of the children’s nursery and intensive care unit.

"The pantry was vacant when the incident happened."

It was clearly a fantastic run of luck that nobody was injured – but no one should bank on such luck in future misadventures. 

The Sultan Abdul Halim Hospital “crack-up” is the latest in a lengthening list of “crack-ups” of new government buildings, led by mammoth structures in the brand-new administrative capital of Putrajaya, followed by mishaps in Parliament after RM100 million renovation and the RM270 million world’s second largest court complex in Jalan Duta, Kuala Lumpur. 

It was only a week ago that  the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi announced a RM8 billion hike in civil service salaries and allowances – but it now seemed so distant, overwhelmed by one government mishap after another, that Malaysians are asking whether it is turning out to be a RM8 billion grand cover-up of government scandals and foul-ups of the public service delivery system. 

It is most shocking that even Members of Parliament on the Dewan Rakyat House Committee responsible for the physical condition of Parliament are quite indifferent about the many deplorable problems of Parliament House – roof leaking and even fire risks from short circuit despite a RM100 million renovation two years ago.

The sole Opposition MP on the House Committee, Tan Kok Wai (DAP – Cheras) had last Monday written to the Speaker, Tan Sri Ramli Ngah as Chairman of the House Committee asking for a House Committee meeting to discuss matters concerning Parliament’s leaky roofs, wiring, details of the building’s renovation and upgrading, its progress and the contractor’s inefficiency.

But no meeting of the House Committee has been convened.

The other members of the House Committee apart from the Speaker and Kok Wai are all from the Barisan Nasional: the Chairman of Barisan Nasional Backbenchers Club, Dato Raja Ahmad Zainudin bin Raja Omar (BN – Larut); P. Komala Dewi (Kapar), Datuk Goh Siow Huat (BN - Rasah), Datuk Wan Junaidi bin Tuanku Jaafar (Santubong) and Datuk Suhaili bin Abdul Rahman (Labuan).

These five BN MPs of the Dewan Rakyat House Committee should resign from the Committee if they are not in the least bothered about the scandals of leaking roof, fire hazards and other mishaps in Parliament despite RM100 million renovation. 

On two consecutive days on May 9 and 10, I had asked whether a certificate for fitness for occupation (CF) had been issued for the second largest court complex in the world in Jalan Duta, Kuala Lumpur in view of its many mishaps, and if so when.

If no CF was issued, why was the court complex allowed to be used; and if there was CF, whether actions would be taken against those who had been so negligent as to issue the CF when there are still so many defects, including structural ones, which had to be rectified?

Two days ago, the Kuala Lumpur City Hall mayor Datuk Ab Hakim Borhan told Berita Harian that CF had not been issued for the court complex.

Today’s Sun carried a front-page story, “CF not required”, quoting the Minister for Local Government and Housing Datuk Seri Ong Ka Ting and Persatuan Arkitek Malaysia President Dr. Tan Loke Mun which seemed to advance the argument that there is no legal requirement for government buildings to have CF before they are occupied and that the onus is on the Works Ministry’s Public Works Department (PWD) to ensure the buildings are safe and meet specifications.

This has opened a can of worms for the 50th Merdeka Anniversary celebrations just two months away.

Firstly, this means that the PWD and the Works Minister, Datuk Seri Samy Vellu must be held directly and fully responsible for the torrent of mishaps in the world’s second largest court complex since it went operational four weeks ago – strengthening the public demand that heads must roll for such shocking incompetence and ineptitude as to make both the judiciary and the nation the latest international laughing stocks.

Secondly, are Ka Ting and Loke Mun right that there is no legal requirement and therefore no need for CFs for government buildings?  What surety and guarantee are there that all these new government buildings are really safe for use and that members of the public are fully insured for any injuries in  the event of mishaps? The public must be wondering how safe they are when they visit all the spanking new palatial Ministries in Putrajaya!

Thirdly, the claim that government buildings do not need CFs flatly contradicts the assurance given by the Putrajaya Corporation, Tan Sri Samsudin Osman, that all buildings in Putrajaya were issued with certificates of fitness (CFs) – contrary to claims that some government departments moved into Putrajaya before they were issued.

Samsudin said in a statement which appeared in New Straits Times 16.4.07 that “the buildings would not be occupied if a CF had not been issued”.

He said however when some clients were eager to move in quickly, temporary certificates of fitness (TCFs) were issued, examples being the Immigration Department which moved into Putrajaya in 2004.

He said: “Back then, a few buildings were issued TCFs but we ensured that they completed all the critical repairs before the proper CFs were issued”.

Samsudin was the former Chief Secretary. Could he be wrong?

The latest CFs imbroglio, demonstrating considerable confusion and ignorance among Ministers and top government officers about basic government rules, regulations and requirements, can only plunge public confidence in the efficiency, effectiveness and  professionalism of the Cabinet and government to a new low – fortifying the indictment of former Prime Minister Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad of  a “half-past six Cabinet” and administration!

Can the Cabinet on Wednesday restore public confidence and close the can of worms opened up by the CF controversy?

Let the Cabinet make clear on Wednesday whether CFs are required for new government buildings before they are occupied. However, regardless of whether new government buildings require CFs, the Cabinet should make public a full list of all new government buildings in the past 10 years, better still 20 years, which had been occupied  without any CF, and their present status.


* Lim Kit Siang, Parliamentary Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic Planning Commission Chairman

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